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the super-sharp quality of this board almost begs to be doused in a little audience-boom mud; may have to try that matrix here and see how it plays out. As it stands, this is undeniably one of the better '81 shows I've heard, especially that insane second set!
Set 1 is solid, nothing terribly outstanding, but everything distinguished in its own way. I really like that pocket jam in Cassidy, and to end the set with Minglewood is rather odd, but they're really just setting the table here...
...for Set 2. Hot DAMN. Take your pick as to which one here is the best of the bunch - it's a real toss-up as far as I'm concerned. Maybe the Eyes. It's just supreme confidence all the way from the start of the suite at S>F to the Rhythm...Boars?!?! to the final notes of Sugar Magnolia - this is A+, prime Dead.
chris phillips -
Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain is great.
Subject: Space Melodies post drums...
Beautiful Jerry out of space and again during the transition to Wharf. Tight.
Subject: nice mix
For me...this was the year I discovered the band so I love this recording. Anyone familiar with the Uptown on Broadway and Lawrence in Chic. will agree this is the stuff here...
Subject: great sound, thats about it though
I was at all 3 of these shows. Here I am 27 years later giving them a listen. I am no more impressed now than I was sitting in the first row of the balcony all 3 nights. I was really expecting something great after the 1980 shows at this fine venue. These were the first shows I ever flew to, and stayed at nice hotels. Sadly, the music was decent but nothing really spectacular. I do remember getting seriously harrassed on the way in. The door guards were shaking everyone down for drugs and putting everything in trash cans. While they took me aside for further harrassment, I couldn't help but notice that there was also a crew eagerly going through the cans and picking out the good stuff for their own enjoyment. Being young and STUPID I questioned them on this, their reply was simply "do you want to go to jail, or go in and see the show?" Thats Chicago for you! I also remember the distinct fear that the whole balcony was coming down under the weight of all those dancing kids. It was shaking so bad I got a little seasick!
Subject: Uptown Theatre – 81
I expected a lot from this show and having listened to it remained disappointed. The sound is perfect, but the main problem is that I can’t hear bass clearly, vocals are too much in front.
Then, first set is short and has no something interesting. “New Minglewood Blues” is nice, but it’s not as aggressive, as versions of 1977 (San Bernardino, Barton Hall). “Friend” and “Cassidy” are cold, it’s only technique, so the songs remained half-spoken to my mind, they are not alive. “Eyes of the World” is awful. Guys started it too fast, Jerry’s not singing, he’s trying to follow the music in time. Leads between the verses are weak, they don’t touch you at all, it’s just like cacophony. “NFA” is out of energy, poor performance, though Jerry’s nice at some moments
The only composition which deserves 5 stars is “S>F”, and because of that I give this show such a high grade. Jamming is nice, singing is nice, definitely the best part of the concert, GD on its high level
Subject: Updated to 4 Stars, after 2nd Listening
I liked this one a whole lot, 2nd time around. I think I must've not had the volume loud enough first time, because everything came through as solid jamming the 2nd time. I didn't take notes, but remember a particularly strong start, and some particularly nice Bob freak-outs on C.C. Rider. Again, generally every song played really well.
---- Original Review
I didn't find this show to be all that great, though perhaps I was influenced by the other negative review? Another caveat is that I didn't have a chance to give it the "full listen", which for me is lying down, eyes closed, head phones on. I never really have time for that, though I should make it more often. These days, it's pretty much while driving, doing house work, walk break at lunch, etc.
It's not that anything was particularly bad, but I didn't find much really exciting, or compelling. It mostly felt pretty uneventful.
First set (less fresh on my mind) had some really nice singing, but felt mostly uneventful. Friend of the Devil and Cassidy come to mind as having been nice.
Second got off to a weak start with Scarlet Begonias, usually one of my favorites. Sequeue into fire on the mountain, fire on the mountatin had some nice jams. Things seemed to seemed to pick up from post Estimated jam. I liked the fast Eyes of the World, and Drums notably good - one of my favorites. Wharf Rat one of the best, for sure.
I liked 5/16/81 alot better, and recall parts that REALLY stood out as inspired/excited. I'm also excited to check out 3/9/81 (just started it, Stranger sounds good, but I LOVE this song).
Subject: solid 4 stars
great sound, great energy, and great jams
Great, of course, but not stellar.
Technically sound 1st set with a great Friend of the Devil and a beautiful, but the energy level is a bit low. The boys find their energy after a bit clunky start to Scarlet in the 2nd set, and continue with a roaring Fire. The fire leads into a nice estimated which transitions slightly less than smoothly into a gorgeous but short Eyes. Drums>Space is one of the better ones, but the energy seems to leave afterwards. Wharf Rat is decent, but I did not seem to appreciate it as much as the other reviewers. Even Sugar Mag, which usually holds up pretty well energy-wise, seems a bit lagging.
No Don't Ease Encore, but it's just as well. I never liked that song as an encore. Plus, with their energy a bit low, I can't imagine it would be anything worth listening to.
David Bolewski -
Subject: Two out of three are outstanding/Bob's guitar tone
I recommend listening to all three from the Uptown run. Especially the last two nights. There's very few shows I can think of that are a waste of time to check out. I know what you mean about Bobbys Super-fuzz distortion in the late 80's. The thing of it is Bobbys ears are so good that he knew that distorted guitar tones would combine perfectly in constrast with the ultra-clean sounds coming from the other instruments. It's almost like the mentality of an abstract painter finding the balance between beauty and ugliness in his painting. It's difficult to say what they would have sounded like with a 'squeky' guitar tone in the late 80's.I'm sorry if I give high marks for most shows. what can I say, they where mostly on and totally outstanding on just about any given night. 4.0 for sound quality
Subject: Great show - Classic era
I have enjoyed these 3 shows for a long time.
I think late 79- 81 should be considered one of the pinnacle eras, along with 72-73 and 77-78 etc. They were totally pro in this era, tight and focused with a revamped repertoire (sans DS and Stephen, though). But they did some great shows in this era.
Each member also seemed to bringing his best sound at this time, too, I think. Bobby had that squeaky thing perfected (before going into the constant super-fuzz distortion in the late 80s and beyond). Jerry has this crunchy soaring lead tone that he uses. I love Brents sound from this early 80s era, too. he has the ploinky thing as well as the big tone of the B3 happening, and his harmonies were so great. I am a Brent fan. And all their sounds merged so well together.
This show in particular is great: Upbeat 1st set and the 2nd set smokes through and through. I am especially fond of the Scar -> fire -> estimated -> eyes. That is a cool run, for sure. The leads in the middle of Scarlet are fantastic, and the transitional jam into Fire is also really good. Though I agree with the earlier reviewer that Eyes is a bit short and too fast. But still, what a sweet run of monster tunes to start the 2nd Set.
The jamming throughout is really edgy and the JG guitar tone is crunchy and great. The lead at the end of Wharf Rat is a knockout.
I really like this show, and this whole run of shows illustrates the band at this time really well.
4 stars / Great stuff.
I give it 4 and not 5 because of the sound. I think, for this era, this is among the best sounding shows around, but overall these shows weren't captured and presented as well as the Betty Board stuff. Cassette factor? There just isnt the clarity on the high end that you get from a crispy 77 SBD. Its hard to hear the high hats and cymbals, and the kick drums / Phil are not as clearly cutting through the mix in these SBDs as they do in the earlier stuff. (It gets worse in 82, but its bad enough here.)
Worth the time to listen to these shows. This is great stuff from one of my favorite eras.
Subject: Right on DTS
I waiting for someone to write The Dead ain't been the same since Vince Welnick died. Everyone's got their bias I suppose. But that bias helps me get turned on to other shows I might ordinarily miss. I have a lot of '81 on tape. Saw my first show in '81 (Rainbow 3/21). I do love my '81 (Long Beach Arena Shakedown anyone?) And this is another one for the books. All you early 80's cat just keep on doing what you're doing so I don't spend the rest of my life in 1972, '76 and '89.
I won't over-rate this one. It's just fine although I'm not a huge fan of how the SBD sounds. True for a few early 80's SBD's in my collection. Yeah I'm just another picky Deadhead.
Subject: Sure what the heck, I'll overrate it
This is a nice typical '81 show with great board quality - 5 sound; 4.5 show. I have to chuckle when someone doesn't like a show and feels they must suggest a "superior" show. Well, thats all well and good; its always nice to get someone elses opinion on other shows they like (thats why we read these things), but lets be realistic. The great thing about the Dead was their chameleon ability to play different types of music and make it their own....space, R&B, Motown, country, bluegrass, etc.... Flubs, spotty vocals, etc, were all part of the experience and sometimes turned out to be a gas (check out Brokedown - Nassau 5/9/81... hee hee). That "flub" made that particular show quite memorable; aside from my brakes giving out on the way home. What may be a great show to one person, may not be to another. Dosemeister, write a review of the MSG 3/29/81 show so I can see what you personally liked about it; the only reviews I see from you are 2/3 stars; and thats okay so long as you're consistent(just the equivelant of the russian judge in gymnastics ;-) ) Most of the shows I review I overrate by some standards, but thats okay too...I'm consistent in what I like. We're all different, some folks like clarity of boards, others like the reminiscent sound of an audience tape. Remember folks, let not stomp on a 7 minute Ramble on Rose only because we like the 25 minute Scarlet/Fire. A good plan is to find someones comments you like for a particular favorite show and see what else they like...chances are you may like the same types of shows. The Uptown was a really cool venue; I miss those places and days. I'm now an "old" man that loved every show I saw or heard for one reason or another.
Signed, A former dayglow freak who used to paint the face, then joined the human race.
Subject: love the first shows from these years..
thank you for a real good time.
Subject: Way overrated
I listened to this show a while back and rejected it; based on the high praise here I decided to try again to see if I'd missed something. Unfortunately my opinion is unchanged: this is a mostly mediocre show, largely due to Jerry's scattershot lead playing. The sound quality is crystal clear and there are some nice moments (esp. Wharf Rat) but with all the wonderful shows available here on archive I can't recommend this one. If you're looking for a show from this era to add to your collection may I suggest 3/9/81? Just my opinion.
capn doubledose -
Subject: Short 8 song first set - next night 11
Next night was 11 and Syracuse 5/17 of that year was 13 - Not splitting hairs just seems unusual. Mwood ending first set is the only instance I am aware they did that and this is a hot Deal like set closer version. FOTD, CC Rider, Roses are all noteworthy... Brent gets a *** for a great performance... Scarlet>Fire is is long and again noteworthy for a year they did not play this a whole lot - Salt Palace which is a few months away is exceptional - All of that said this is not one of the best of all time or the 80's it is however a solid 4 - Lets face it Jer flubs some lyrics, there is a short first set, and at time at the beginning of set II they seem to be just going through the motions...
Subject: Hell yeah!
This show is smokin'! Sound quality and performance are amazing! With all the 70's greats, I forget how good they were in 1980-1981. Do not waste any more time...get this show now!
Subject: its 9:29 and I'm....
at 3:16 brent is playing bangin the horse teeth and bobby is strummin a geetar. then at 789 this guy is doin that and I'm like listening to music with a stopwatch in my hand just so i know whats goin on in there heads......RIGHT!
Nice sounding board, check out Minglewood, the boy's rip it up..Oh yea, Brent is on fire..again.
Hmmmm. The first 30+ seconds are just vamping, with somebody doing a little dance on a hollow coconut. Brent is mixed way up here, which is fine. Sharp quality sound, but you can't hear the opening ascending thematic licks at all. At 3:59 Garcia starts his first run, and he ends it by dropping off. Sometimes silence is compelling, but here, it flows over into the start of his second run, and it seems he's just lost his way. His third starts at 4:56 but there's no moving over to chords, and then its on to the Wind In The Willows verse. Pretty stark contrast with, say, 2/3/79.
The jam starts around 5:50. Interestingly, he restates the theme at 6:59. He turns on the wah at 7:56. At 9:53 he stutters, and I'm thinking, where is Lesh? By 10:45, I'm wondering, where the heck is everyone? He tries the theme again at 11, back to the wah at 12, and it's on to Fire.
Subject: Smoking Show
The best of the two nights. The energy level higher. The quality is outstanding. Highly recommended.
Subject: AUD source good too
For those of you AUD fans, the other source for this show is terrific as well.
Subject: Otherones Award
This show wins the otherones Award for best Grateful dead show.
My 3 year obsession with the 60's - 70's era dead came to a crashing halt after hearing this show. Im all about the Mydland era dead and this show is the cause of it all.
'81 is truly right between '77 and '85. You get the Jams and good voice from Jerry with a unique sound that eventually becomes that polished '85 sound. it's hard to explain so download and take a listen.
richie p -
Subject: Ill get up and fly away...
I think this is the finest Wharf Rat I have ever heard. Period. Brent and Jerry's vocals are so clean it literally almost made me cry, and I am talking about a show I am listening on my Dell computer that was played 24 f'in years ago. Nuff said? download now before you get another beer.
Subject: The Aceman Misseth
Great sound, great shows. Really enjoyable listen.
The instrumentation is not perfect, though. Bobby is largely missing except for very quiet passages (ie, the funk jam following the Scarlet verses).
Subject: Great Run From Uptown '81
What to say, get all three nights, though I find this to be the best of the three by a very small margain. The 2d set is great from start to finish. The Scarlet>Fire is sublime, Jerry finds a zone during the 2d jam of Fire that will leave your tongue wagging. The Estimated is long and funky, the Eyes, I found a bit short and fast for my taste. The highlight for me is the deep, thoughtful reading of Wharf Rat with a great post "Ill get up and fly away" jam from JG. Again, I would strongly recommend all three nights, not only for their musicianship, but the sound quality is as good as it gets.
Subject: thanks for the b-day gift, fellas...
This show is hot, has a great setlist, and was recorded on the day I was born (I'm a deadhead born too late) at a venue a couple blocks from my apartment. Can still hear this one whirling down the street in Chicago.
The first set rocks from top to bottom, only taking a break for a beautiful Roses. One of the better electric FODs I've heard.
The first half of the second set (Sarlet > Fire > Estimated > Eyes) is bliss.
Sound is a tad hissy, but I like the mix - get's better as the show progresses too.
I'm partial to the 80s, and this is one of the best I've heard. Totally worth the effort.
dirty jev-o -
Subject: quality sound
sick....still like 3 20 92 a bit better as far as quality, but really....really hard to judge as this is just as good......the sound quality is so crisp and clean....damn!!!! and ofcourse these are the same guys who wowed us in 68 with dark star!!! awesome----no substitute for the dead-----the only jam band for me----beginning and end of that story-----
Subject: water taste's like wine
uptown theatre can turn water into wine. Always a nice run when they come to this venue, and this is no exception
Chester Burnett -
That's all I can say. The sound quality of this show is spectacular. The vocals (and background vocals) are crystal clear and right up front and all of the instrumentation is also well-balanced and perfectly mixed. Not only is the sound quality excellent but the performance is also pretty awesome. The Loser is sweet and you can't go wrong with a set that includes Scarlet/Fire, Estimatd and Eyes (although it's a little fast for my taste). Do yourself a favor and download this show!!
Subject: Great sound, great show ,,, Crank up the Ipod!
The vbr mp3 files make excellent fodder for an Ipod. I have like twenty complete shows on the damn thing and still have room for over 100 albums. So burn it on CD at home, and take it on the road, to the pizzeria, on vacation on the slightly more compressed but still awesome spawn of the new millenium. Party until you've had enough.
Subject: Oooh, I 'm a believer.!
All the other reviewers are on the mark. This show riocks. The keyboards for scarlet>fire make it unique. The estimated post jam out into eyes is slinky and reflets a disturbed garcia, ..looking for a new note, a longer jam...a more unusual and jammed out slinkyness...check it out for yourself, again the sound here is awesome.
For the exception of 4-7-71 I only give show a five if I was there. Since I was one yr old in '71 I couldn't be there but gave it a 5 because it is sooo hot. This one is a 94 out of 100 on the sound quality, just makes A category for me. So it gets a 4. Enjoy it!
Not the "hottest" Scarlet>fire in my opion but so well played and very long! Doesn't beat 7-7-78 nor does it beat cornell but it is up there with the barcelona '81 and the scarlet fire from UVM in 4-13-83. If you like those shows, you must download this show. Its that simple.
A keeper. Its the type fo tape that gets a non dead head into the dead. It'll make a believer out of anyone!
Subject: Uptown Theatre Shows are the Hottest!!!
I've herd a few from the Uptown,everyone I herd is "RED HOT",the boys must have enjoyed Chicago big time.There's a 78 show that smokes,but about this one,what can I say "FANTASTIC SOUND",just so good you won't believe and a very hot show to boot,when they open with a Alabama Getaway,you know they are goin to rock,well no dissapointments at all "NONE!"Has to be one of the top shows of the 80's,"very argueably"tight throughtout "GET IT!!"
sid weiss -
Subject: great all around show...download all 3 nights
great all around show...download all 3 nights
GREAT show very nice sound any show with scarlet>fire with estimated>eyes wharf rat in any year is killer in my book.. first set is very tight to, with a friend of the devil an a cassidy that is a smooth as slik over all a killer show just a nother hidden gem from 81
Subject: so nice to see this circulating
I had an amateur-ish AUD of 2/27/81 for years; not the best sound quality, but you could tell the show was hot, hot, hot.
The person(s) who taped my copy spent the most of the first set asking each other: "Do you feel anything yet?" This went on between each song. By the end of Scarlet->Fire they had stopped talking. I always imagined them melted into a puddle by then. :)
Really excited about hearing this again!
Subject: Best show ever
I can't agree enough with the other reviewer... this is in my opinion the most enjoyable show that I have ever heard. If I could go back in time for one night... I would be hard pressed to not pick this date. This is not only the best scarlet>fire I have ever heard, but the estimated>eyes and the wharf rat are also my favs. I would put this show, and especially the 2nd set up against any performance the grateful dead ever had. Very much a mid eighties drive with a mid/late 70's groove. A must have for sure. Thank You to whomever is shooting all the great gd stuff up on the archive. I've been looking to replace my treasured cassette copy of this show for years. AWESOME!
Subject: some comments
one of my all time favorite shows (the scarlet>fire is particularly noteworthy) and the best recording I have heard of this show- basically flawless....a must have for the have-nots and a must upgrade unless your seed is of the same origin....(the azmiuth must have been adjusted dead on during transfer as there is no trace of analog hiss even through headphones...)i used to underestimate 81-82 but shows like this show make me look a lot harder at these two years...its the sound having one foot in 77 and one in 85...